Friday, May 19, 2006

Detritus of the Digital Life

In the course of testing - as well as using - various online tools, I leave behind me a wake of logins, passwords and open accounts. Some of these I use on a regular basis - Deli.ici.ous, Blogger, Flickr - and some less frequently - BaseCamp, any number of Wikis, New York Times login, etc. And even if I have tried to unify my logins and passwords (high securityvs. low security) it's still confusing - am I using an email or a name; is the password my email password, or my high security or low security password? And given the rash of laptop thefts, I'm not about to have all of my sign-ins saved for me.

This makes me think of the two main directions I'm going in right now - one way with the proliferation of Web.20 tools (which are dispersed everywhere) and the other way with something like Drupal - whose users basically tried to incorporate into the application the functionality of any new tool, via module development (there are Flickr, Eventful, Del.ici.ous and various blogging modules available, just to name a few).

So I see two fundamental directions - distributed vs. consolidated, and to be honest, I'm veering towards the consolidated camp. I can't do the rounds every day and catch-up with comments on Flickr, on Wikis A thru Z, on discussion boards (on more than one site) and then in email too. I know there are patchwork ways of being able to "publish" (comments, blogs, emails, etc) from a single source - configuring the web browser Flock is one example - and that if you wanted to, you could RSS your world, so that all your info sources come to one place (e.g. Bloglines or Feedster). But if I get 50+ emails a day (low by some people's standards, but that's not counting spam) and more than 2 RSS feeds, I'm toast.

As Zacker said, email is the killer app (I can't find the original blog post, but read his overview at the beginning of this post - essentially, all you really need is an email list and a whitebaord (read: wiki) - and you can acoomplish a hell of a lot.) I agree - but even then, too many of either these are not helpful.... I know that this explosion of new tools wil leventually contract and consolidate - but until then, it's going to be a little hectic. In the meantime, I'm hoping open-source universal sign-on will alleviate some of these problems.


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